Star Trek The Next Generation: The Most Toys

"Captain's log, Stardate 43872.2. In order to neutralise a sudden contamination of the water supply at the Federation colony on Beta Agni Two, we are procuring one hundred and eight kilos of hytritium from the Zibalian trader, Kivas Fajo. Because pure hytritium is too unstable for our transporters, Lieutenant Commander Data has been shuttling the material to the Enterprise."

This is the type of episode that 'Allegiance' should have been.

Like that episode, 'The Most Toys' is a very theatrical story that confines the majority of the action to one single set (Fajo's trophy room). The big difference is, this time the writers give Data some interesting people to interact with, unlike those dullards Picard was stuck with. Chief amongst them is this episode's villain, Kivas Fajo. He's a collector of rare antiquities, wonderfully played by the usually very cuddly Saul Rubinek. Fajo is a truly loathsome character with not a single redeemable feature. He is a petulant little sadist. A spoiled brat who is used to having everything his own way. And like any tantruming child who doesn’t get their own way he likes to lash out and break things, but he prefers to break people because they are far easier to replace than his precious collectibles.

The scenes between Fajo and Data are some of the best acted scenes the series have ever done, with Rubinek and Brent Spiner both giving it their all. Data, for his part, takes on the role of Number Six to Fajo's Number Two. Every chance he gets Data rebels against Fajo's efforts to control him. He's not a collectible, he's a free android. It's only when Fajo threatens to kill Varria that Data finally submits. She may have been one of his captors, but Data won't allow anyone to be harmed as a result of his actions. As he tells Fajo, he has a fundamental respect for all living beings. Which is what makes the final confrontation so fascinating.

The episode aims for ambiguity, but there is no doubt in my mind that Data deliberately discharged the disrupter. He was going to murder Fajo, who did himself no favours by presenting Data with a very compelling argument for his immediate demise. Data may not be an emotional creature, but he is a logical one. He would never kill anyone out of anger or malice, but it does seem that he would kill if given the right circumstances. Killing Fajo would be the only way to end his cycle of cruelty and ensure that no one else is hurt. The most shocking thing of all is that afterwards, he lied about it. He was about to kill an unarmed man, albeit a very horrible unarmed man, and he lied about it to his friends. Data has always said he desires to be more human, but I don't think this is what he had in mind.

He deserves to die just for making Data wear that outfit.
Notes and Quotes

--The episode's title comes from a phrase "He who dies with the most toys, wins."

--David Rappaport was originally cast for Kivas Fajo, but after a few days of filming, he was replaced by Rubinek when he attempted to commit suicide. A life long sufferer of depression, Rappaport successfully took his own life two months later.

--Worf found himself once again forced to replace a crew mate who had died, but I feel this thread wasn't developed as well as it could have been. I also question the logic behind having Worf replace Data. Ops seems like a position best suited to someone with engineering or scientific experience. Which is not Worf. Geordi, O’Brien or even Wesley would have been better suited for the position.

Picard: "He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again."

Varria: "Face it, android. He has you."
Data: "It appears... he has us both."

Fajo: "You won't hurt me. Fundamental respect for all living beings. That is what you said. I'm a living being, therefore you can't harm me."
Data: "You will surrender yourself to the authorities."
Fajo: "Or what? You'll fire? Empty threat and we both know it. Why don't you accept your fate? You will return to your chair and you will sit there. You will entertain me and you will entertain my guests. And if you do not, I will simply kill somebody else. Him, perhaps. It doesn't matter. Their blood will be on your hands too, just like poor Varria's. Your only alternative, Data, is to fire. Murder me. That's all you have to do. Go ahead. Fire. If only you could feel rage over Varria's death. If only you could feel the need for revenge, then maybe you could fire. But you're just an android. You can't feel anything, can you? It's just another interesting intellectual puzzle for you. Another of life's curiosities."
Data: "I cannot permit this to continue." *aims the disrupter at Fajo*
Fajo: "Wait. Your programme won't allow you to fire. You cannot fire. No!"

Three out of four 1962 Roger Maris baseball cards.
--
Mark Greig is legal in 4 states. More Mark Greig.

2 comments:

Juliette said...

I was surprised how good this was, both due to the script and Saul Rubinek and Brent Spiner's performances. Thought-provoking and genuinely gripping - the series is really starting to find its feet here.

Billie Doux said...

I agree with you both. Very good episode, with skillful acting from both Saul Rubinek and Brent Spiner, and I agree that it's sort of stunning that Data was going to (1) deliberately execute an unarmed man and that (2) he lied about it to his friends and superior officers. I also liked that they left it ever so slightly ambiguous, just in case the viewer wanted to believe Data wouldn't be capable of doing such a thing. I thought Jane Daly did a good job as Varria, too, because I couldn't help but feel for her.